Whether you run marathons or just put in a few miles at the track, your running shoes can make or break your run. While quality matters when it comes to supporting your feet, even the best shoes won't feel comfortable if they don't fit properly. Shoes that are too tight can damage your toes, while shoes that are too big can cause blisters and ankle pain. To get the best fit possible, measure your foot each time you shop for new running shoes.
Measure Your Foot Size
Ideally, you should have your foot measured at a running shoe shop by a professional who uses a Brannock Device. If you don't have access to this foot measurement tool, you can use a ruler to measure your foot. Place the ruler perpendicular to a wall so the zero point is against the wall. Wearing the type of sock you normally wear while running, put your heel on the ruler so your heel is against the wall. Record the point where your longest toe ends as your foot length. Measure your other foot in the same manner. To determine the most comfortable shoe size, use your larger foot as the basis for sizing your running shoes. Because shoe size does not follow a set conversion formula, use an inches-to-shoe-size conversion chart to determine your shoe size based on your measurements.
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Measure Your Foot Width
The Brannock Device also measures the width of your foot. If this tool is not available, you can use your ruler to find the best width of shoe for your foot. With the ruler still against the wall, stand on it in the type of socks you normally wear for running. Shift your foot until you your foot's widest point is along the ruler. Record this number. Shoe widths cannot be easily converted from inches. A shoe size chart will help you find your width based on your shoe size and your foot's width in inches.
Determine Your Foot Type
To get the proper support from your running shoe, you need to determine whether you pronate, supinate or keep your foot neutral. Because these foot motions often coincide with the height of your arch, you can use a footprint to determine your foot type. Moisten your feet with water, then step onto a surface that will show your prints. A sidewalk, deck or piece of paper will usually work. If your foot print shows little to no arching at the center, you have low arches and will tend to over-pronate. If your footprint shows a high arch you will tend to supinate. If the width of your arch and the edge of your footprint are about equal, you have normal arches. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of arch support in your shoes accordingly.
Checking for Fit
Due to the impact of running and the swelling that occurs in your feet as you exercise, your running shoes should be slightly larger than your day-to-day shoe. Because differences exist among brands, you may need a shoe one-half to one shoe size bigger than your everyday shoes with some brands, while in other brands will require the same size as your daily shoes. The only way to ensure proper sizing is to try on several styles and several brands. You should try on running shoes in the late afternoon and while wearing the type of socks you normally wear on a run to ensure the best fit. While standing with the shoes laced, you should be able to wiggle your toes. If you can't, the shoes are too small and may cause toe or nail injuries. Jog around in the shoes to get a feel for how the shoe fits at your heel and the middle of your foot. Your heel and the middle of your foot should not slip around or feel constricted, but should have a comfortable, glove-type feel, according to Road Runner Sports.